Horse fans in shock as hobby horse championships launched

For many, it must have been presumed to have been an April Fool. But readers of Horse & Hound soon learned that the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) really were introducing hobby horse riding competitions.

The move is the latest attempt to encourage a wider age group to get into the sport. Under the system, classes will be divided into two age ranges – three to six and seven to 11.

Those taking part in the BSPS’s summer championships will each perform a freestyle show of no more than 120 seconds.

Competitors will be scored out of 50 for coordination, balance, energy and body control.

The “overall performance of the show with energy and appeal” will be marked out of 50 too.

Although plaits are going to be optional, judges will be looking for riders’ toes to be pointed outwards and they want to see performances with “elegance and energy”. The best of the bunch will make the final.

A BSPS spokesman said: “The BSPS wanted to embrace the hobby horse craze as an addition to our fabulous children’s entertainment programme, which sets the society apart from others in providing all-round family fun.”

According to the rules, each participant must wear shoes and be mounted on a hobby horse.

Although there’s no specific dress code, competitors should wear shoes that enable their toes to be clearly pointed.  

The rules states: “Your hobby horse can be plaited or unplaited”. Meanwhile young riders are reminded that “the judge’s decision is final”.

In each section, the top three will be eligible for the summer championships, and a £300 voucher is on offer for the winners.

The BSPS said: “We are a children’s society and, as such, it is important to ensure that we make sure our championship shows are fun for all our smaller members.

“We hope that this will raise awareness of our extensive children’s entertainment programme at both the BSPS summer and winter championships.

“All the children’s entertainment is free and includes a playbus, craft room, iBox bus, football competition, fancy dress, disco and fashion show, and parties for the adults, and enables the BSPS to stand out against other major Society shows.”

Horse & Hound’s readers were so puzzled by the news that the publication, which is the oldest equestrian weekly magazine in Britain, dating back to 1884, had to publish a clarification on its website.

It said: “This year, our April Fool story was about the earliest example of ‘matchy-matchy’ horse and rider gear, dating from about 35,000 BC.

“While most readers correctly identified this as a spoof story to mark the day, some assumed that the story published later the same day about the BSPS introducing a hobby horse championship was also an April Fool, when it was not.”

SOURCE

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